* August 24, morning, Virginia City, Montana, 3508 miles: After making yesterday’s post (and warming up - it got down below 40 degrees overnight!), I left Red Lodge at the crack of noon and made my way over Beartooth Highway. It was just as epic for the third time - and the weather could not have been any finer! Many shots were taken as I was still driving the bike, so apologies for the bad framing. Check out the cool, old roadster that I followed numerous times and eventually passed in the quaint village of Cooke City, where it looked to be having a Harleyfest. I then made my way over the northern loop of Yellowstone to Mammoth Hot Springs again and all the way out to West Yellowstone without even one incidence of a ’buffalo jam’. Dang, never did see a grizzly!
Boring notes of things to do to Barney this winter (JD/Dickie - take note. Most of these are suggestions from Gene Fessenbecker and Dave Zuber - knowledgeable GSers):
** Update the driveshaft to one with grease fittings and no longer be concerned about it.
** Update the driveshaft rubber dampener to fix any oscillation concerns.
** Inspect/replace driveshaft/rear tapered bearing, when driveshaft is out.
** Install the rubber float-bowl gaskets.
** Lube the splines - the one back by the wheel and the one between the tranny and engine.
** Replace the 20-tooth fifth gear with the 22 tooth gear to give it longer legs (or is it 22 tooth with 20 tooth?).
** Clean up the alternator brushes with light sandpaper - a quick and simple procedure.
** Grease the starter gearing mechanism (not greased from the factory).
** Try softer rear brake shoes to see if they improve.
** Install taller bars or risers.
** Install a Continental Twinduro (knobby) on the front and an Avon Gripster (dualsport) on the back. Supposed to be an excellent combo for road and off road, plus the combo lasts for about 8k miles.
** Install/upgrade the diode board and grounding strap with the better one from Thunder (something) Products.
** Install lighter throttle springs.
I contacted and reserved a room at Chick’s Steakhouse and Motel in Alder, MT and was lucky to find that, since all motels in the region were full, since it was a weekend. So I lit out north of the touristy West Yellowstone, then turned left onto 287 and went by Quake Lake. What an interesting story: in 1959 there was a major earthquake in the area that killed numerous people, ruined the highway and dammed up the local river. The Army Corp of Engineers had to be called in quickly to make a relief point for the water, so as not to have major flooding downstream. The newly formed lake was dubbed appropriately Quake Lake and the dead trees are still standing from the disaster. Speaking of disaster, continuing north of there were very long stints of straight pavement and literally herds of deer and antelope. I was nervous and had to chase many deer off the highway. Coming into the town of Ennis, it looked like they were having some sort of festival, which I think may have been based around fly fishing. It’s a big deal in this region, since all the rivers are peppered with fly fisherman casting away.
Continuing east from the prairie city of Ennis on 287, I went over another beautiful pass, but the sun was about ready to set, so I was watchful for Bambi. I rolled into the very historic mining towns of Virginia City, then Nevada City, where a cop suddenly was behind me with his lights on and hit his siren. Damn! I quickly pulled over and he sailed on by with his lights still blazing. Whew! These two towns look to be a photographic coupe de grace, so I plan on going back Sunday morning. I pulled into Chick’s at dusk, got cleaned up, and partied with the locals in the one-horse town of Alder. My bartender (Fran) was a lot of laughs and the locals picked me out immediately as a tourist and were buying me drinks left and right and I finally had to say no mas! Good people.
I’m now at a coffee shop in Virginia City, MT - very historic. Driving down here I got the same feeling that I do every morning when I climb onto the horse and take off - an almost overwhelming sense of freedom and independence. It is almost indescribable as the surroundings touch all the senses; the smell of fresh-cut hay, the morning sun casting that ‘magic’ light on the surroundings, the deer grazing silently in the fields, the gentle vibration of the boxer motor, knowing I can go (or stop) anywhere, and a good song in my head (this morning it’s Outlaw Man by the Eagles). I’m pretty much a social type of person, but the solitude and freedom is just so damn good for the soul - apologies for waxing nostalgic to anyone actually reading this drivel.
Go west young man,